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Want Better Streets? Support Measure T

The West County Times article copied below confirms what I have been telling people for years. We spend about $6 million a year in gas tax and Measure C revenue for street maintenance, but we need to spend $25 million. That’s a $19 million annual shortfall.

In the 2007 community-wide survey, street maintenance was the highest priority of Richmond residents.

One way that we can chip away at that $19 million shortfall is to pass Measure T. The opposition to Measure T is amply funded by Chevron and is already spreading myths and misinformation.   The "Yes on T" campaign relies solely on a broad base of community supporters to inform voters with the truth.

We need to raise funds to send a mailer to Richmond residents, and since this is an all-volunteer, grassroots campaign, we are counting on YOUR support. Do yourself and your vehicle a favor and help pass Measure T.

All YOU need to do is get out your checkbook, or go to www.afairshareforrichmond.org to use paypal, and give as generously as you can.  Any amount is welcome 

Checks should be made out to: A Fair Share for Richmond, and mailed to:

A Fair Share for Richmond

PO Box 5401

Richmond, CA 94805

Officials try to keep up with streets in dispair in a city with some of the poorest roads in the Bay Area

By Katherine Tam
West County Times

Article Launched: 09/21/2008 05:24:17 PM PDT

Richmond's pocked and cracked streets, which landed the city near the bottom of a Bay Area ranking on roads, have residents complaining loudly — and asking for compensation.

More than half the claims the public filed with the city from January to June were for flat tires, bent rims, alignments jostled out of whack and other car or pedestrian injuries attributed to potholes and uneven roads. Claims typically ranged from $200 to $1,500.

"I ran over a pothole and damaged my rim and tire," one resident wrote in a claim the city paid out at $420. "My tire needs to be replaced because now it has an air bubble in it and the tire is going to pop. It also threw off my wheel alignment."

City leaders acknowledge the roads are a problem and say they are trying to pump more funds into improvements. Officials last year spent more than $10 million, substantially more than the $3 million or so they spent annually up until 2005. This year, they plan to spend about $7 million.

The city's average Pavement Condition Index rating has climbed from 46 in 2006, when Richmond ranked second to last in a Bay Area-wide streets assessment, to 58 this year, according to a preliminary report from a city consultant. The 12-point jump is expected to be enough to push the city out of the "poor" roads category into "fair."

A PCI is the industry rating for roads based on cracks, potholes and other factors. The number ranges from a high of 100 to a low of  zero.

"We're in a situation where the city is playing catch-up for many, many years of deferred maintenance," city manager Bill Lindsay said. "The good news is we are at (a PCI of) 58 now. A (12)-point increase is really significant."

The city of Hillsborough, which won a Most Improved Award from the Bay Area Metropolitan Transportation Commission last year, boosted its PCI by 14 points to a score of 64 from 2003 to 2006. The MTC expects to release its final roads assessment for 2008 in December.

Road upkeep is a pricey endeavor. If the city spends $7 million annually, it will be able to fix some bad roads while stopping those in relatively good condition from getting worse, City Engineer Rich Davidson said. The city would be able to make some gains or at least keeps roads at the current PCI level.

To get roads to a PCI rating of about 80 — the kind of smooth pavement found in Concord and Livermore — the city would need to spend $25 million a year over the next decade.

For now, the city's strategy is to put virtually all its gas tax and Measure C transportation sales tax money into road upkeep, something officials weren't doing a few years ago, Lindsay said. They're also putting in money from the capital budget.

"It has a dedicated funding source now," Lindsay said. "It's important in the future that we don't let it get behind, that we make sure we allocate at least that."

In addition, the city's public works crews, which used to fill potholes, are now sealing cracks and making other more substantive repairs, he added.

The long-term solution is more funding, Mayor Gayle McLaughlin said. McLaughlin sees the manufacturing fee initiative on the Nov. 4 ballot as a way to get more revenue.

"Some of the funds from Measure T, if passed by the voters, could be allocated for this purpose and together with a strengthened Local Employment Ordinance — one that requires 50 (percent) to 60 percent local hiring — we can ensure that a large number of Richmond residents are hired to fix the streets," McLaughlin said.

Measure T would require manufacturers to pay a quarter-percent of the value of the raw materials they use each year, if it is more than the annual business license fee they pay now. That's projected to generate $26.5 million a year.

If the measure doesn't pass, McLaughlin said officials will have to prioritize as best they can with the funds they have.

Davidson said the city tries each year to repave some bad roads while sealing or treating roads that are in relatively good shape so they don't get worse. Keeping good roads in good shape is important, he added, because it will cost more to fix them later if they are allowed to degrade.

A consultant inspects local streets for cracks, potholes and other problems each year. Each road is plugged into a computer program designed to give the city the most bang for the buck.

"We follow a program through MTC," Davidson said. "If we follow the rules, we qualify for grant money to fix streets."

Reach Katherine Tam at 510-262-2787 or ktam@bayareanewsgroup.com.